Strong growth in service sector

THERE has been a rise in demand for property and business services in the local economy, with the sector now considered the country’s second largest employer.

Recently-released figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show property and business services employed an extra 89,000 people during the 1999-2000 financial year.

This accounted for half of the total increase in employment across all sectors. Property and business services now employ 998,000 people nationally, more than the manufacturing, construction and hospitality sectors. Only the retail sector employs more people, with 1,061,000 employees.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist Nicky Cusworth said the rise in the services sector was a characteristic of a developed economy.

“Certainly in the case of Australia, and most other developed economies, there is an ongoing swing away from production-based industries, like manufacturing, to services,” she said.

“And as the country becomes more affluent, this is reflected in consumption patterns, where people become richer and are happy to spend the money on services.”

The sector includes property services such as real estate agents and developers, and business services such as accounting, marketing and management services.

Real Estate Institute of WA public affairs director Lino Iacomella said while there had not been a noticeable increase in the number of real estate agents or property business, there had been an increase in the number of people working in other property-related professions, such as valuations and property development.

However, Institute of Chartered Accountants WA regional manager Con Abbott said there had been an increase in demand for accountants, particularly with the introduction last year of the GST.

“Businesses are now required to have far more disciplined financial management to meet the obligations of the GST, the concept of storing records in a shoe box is dead,” Mr Abbott said.

“Businesses, and mainly the small and medium businesses, have had to become more sophisticated with their financial management and they are suddenly realising they can’t do it themselves.

“And on top of that we have had several years of good economic growth and during these times it is the service industries that perform well.”

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